Zrrn. Zrrrn. Telephone... The familiar voice of John Jourden.
- "Ca Boom at Santa Monica Airport, can you be there fast?"
I don't know if this is good time to yell back at the chief and say take this job and shove it, or, say “sure chief I need the money.”
Since my politically incorrect reporting at AIA convention last year, I was sorta put on an editorial watch and only told what I should write...
- "Sure chief I need the money"
- "Good. Since you live nearby, I assume you can just walk there and save us some gas money. Also, do I have to remind you again to be nice to people? And make sure you keep it to minimum number of words and 'a's, is's and the's are not counted as paid words. Clear?"
- "Claro chief, claro."
Writing on a trendy industry on steroids sucks, but I am secretly attracted to trade fairs. These days I get invited to many of them as bad press generator.
This is how it works;
You get a well-known bad press generator dog to write about your big event and the dog turns-in a moral majority offensive, and, bingo, you have gained more allies than enemies. It is like a dog market these days. Writers like yours truly are worth a lot of cash, hot invites and industry entertainment.
However, today is different. It is either the chief accepted some bribe, or there is sex involved. This is not my invitation, it is chief's. I don’t know what goes on between the higher uppers, for them it is Ugly Betty executive scene, for me, it’s a job.
I have to be super nice to bunch of pre-fab millionaires, green paddlers, solar panel installers, soybean mixed-in-siding specifiers in general (Yes generalization).
I have to say supportive things to bunch of determined venture capitalists that thrive on piece of the cake, and tell to the like minded consumers, how deliciously sustainable the good life is.
I decide not to take the dogs with me just in case they pee on the bamboo samples and when I get there, the press relations person personally personalize my arrival to the job site.
- “Glad you've made it. We are told to feed you first. Do you like some water?"
- “Yeah, water and bread. I like".
She hangs out with me for few minutes and tells me how much she likes badass press. Obviously, she ain't the one Da Chief googled.
Inside the huge hangar is the trade fair environment I lone for; the beautiful people, press person watchers, strategic ignorers..
I recognize some teaching and student members of local architectural prep schools like Valley Community College, Santa Monica High School, UCLA extension and others on the floor, filling their botanist bags with free literature and samples.
If you want to meet Sci Arc faculty, you have to go in one of the tours and see them on their own throne. But that is really not my thing. I am really an exhibition booths area lover, where I prey and shine.
I start with an aggressive question at an expensive pre-fab villas booth.
OA - Hey guy, last time I reported you had some cost issues, did you straighten that out with the press?
# B-Fab - We have refuted hi-cost theory in the national media. Sure, we are four bedrooms three point five baths and two million dollars range, but the architects we feature are the best there is. In addition, I have instructed my PR people to use only recyled paper for our press package. That saves about fifteen trees a year. Just imagine if all the pre-fabbers out there do the same, we could save enough trees to use it as t&g hardwood ceiling in every house, which is important to some people.
OA- Greeat, grrreat.
He says few more things to offend me but I always counter him with 'G' word. I decide to move on to next booth area and pop the question to the magazine publisher lady behind the sponsor desk;
- How much you guys pay per word?
She looks at my press badge and says, "I know you, we don't carry people like you".
I say " great, great."
Ten feet later I start to talk to the Private Design University interior design instructor I’ve met at the 'AIA Young Professional's Schmooze n’ Meat' activity few weeks ago. I was there for a special research project I am still involved and can’t write about it here. You will know what it is soon, in a big way.
Let’s just say the project name is Oscar Award and not Pritzker Prize...
Anyway, I ask to Private Design University instructor;
- Are you guys hiring part time teachers, I am looking for some extra income?
- What would you teach?
- Green and sustainable building design and writing about one’s work to understand your own and start to take more active role on thesis presentations. Like give a chance to insurgency or something.
- Nein (no in German language).
I didn’t realize he knew real German.
So, clearly there is an overload of sustainable income teachers there who are protecting their turf gallantly.
My next question to him after I warn him that I might use it for the article (he straightens his hair and clears his throat),
- Do you think you are sexy?
- (laughs like a whore) No. I think solar collectors are sexy.
- Greeat, Grrreat.
Next stop is the cafeteria area. As a rule, I do a coffee break between every three people I question.
Coffee break areas of trade fairs are lonely places. It makes me feel like I would never be invited to a lavish lunch at nearby hot restaurant and nobody gives any importance to the reporter who is wearing a press tag but eating from the brown bag he carries with him or her.
However, when you are a well-known badass cult hero (me), Hot Chicks, who want a piece of you in the public bathrooms if it is at all possible, immediately surround you. Do you notice I used four two letter words side by side that won't be counted on the final tally per word pay plan? Not everything is for money. I love this town, pardon me, 'I love' my job.
Hot Chick- " Hi badass, we have met at Trader Joe's grand opening and I loved your critique of it. Do you want to see the pre-fab bathroom erection in the parking lot with recycled crap on it, with me?"
Me- " No not today. Thanks for the offer though, but I want to see this other erection over there that everybody want me to see. Alone."
Not that I don't see her asset but I am afraid that Tina might walk in as my photographer (I had her name put on the press list) and make a huge scene and we have to fight in public over nothing.
I dodge few more Hot Chicks specially the one who wanted to do it right there behind the curtains.
I am getting pissed off at myself for telling Tina she can come and check up on me that I am not doing anything. When she called earlier, I should not tell her that this place is loaded with swingers. That always pisses her off.
It is no other than....Brrrrad Pittt...
OA- Don't tell me you are getting into pre-fab business Brad..
(Note the first name basis? Long story.)
BP- In fact I am, Orhan.
OA- Would you care to say anything about it? It must be a winner with all the people from your industry.
BP- Yep. And, guess what, Al Gore has ordered the first one and it'll be added to his award winning film. Fuck’n A..!
OA- Oh yeah?
BP- Oh yeah. It is 6500 sq. ft. with sexy solar panels, which double as helipad. ARUP designed the structure. It is a tiny place for his (Al’s) size. That should shut-the-fuck-up his critics. It will have a Mexican powered garbage disposal/compost maker working quietly with his guest worker’s visa. There is also leech field attached to it. The first infra free pre-fab... I am excited like an unmanageable atom. Angelina is doing the interiors, aaand, we'd like ‘you’ to do the exclusive essay on it, for Archinect. We’ll pay per word. You guys are grreat.
OA- Do you want a praise or badass article? Badass is ten cents more per word.
OA- Greeaat, greaaat.
I say goodbye to Brad and move on the assignment.
Next stop is to pick up my free copy of MODERNISM Magazine. And ask to magazine people at their booth,
OA- What do you guys think of Marcel Breuer buildings being demolished?
M&M- They aare. Oh I knnnoooww, so sorry to hear that...
OA- Would you people be interested in saying something about it?
M&M- Yeaah. Pitch us something about it…
OA- Great, great…
A little later, Tina showed up with the disposable camera she got from CVS pharmacy which used to be a Save On and took the same pictures I’ve already taken. I don’t feel like arguing with her because it is her camera even though I got the press-pass for her.
Ten minutes after she arrives, she says she wants to leave and adds, I can “hang in and party with bunch of trendy people” and “she doesn’t give a fuck”.
I say I am working.
She says it is all bullshit and she cannot believe that I couldn’t write this without coming here…
I fast forward and try to get in;
Panel #3 Prefab Conversation - 2:30 to 3:45
"From The Development Point of View"
What's In The Ground? Where Is It Working?
Where will we be in 12 months?
Hahahaha. Great, Great. Got to run boys, I am in trouble with my troubled views. Take it away Chief. I am the greatest…
Orhan Ayyüce reported from Barker Hangar, Santa Monica Municipal Airport, March 2007
And Now the SlideShow from the TradeShow